I would like to describe an opportunity I had over 20 years ago to make a real life impact on a person that had some mental and related physical struggles since birth. This young man had a profound impact on me then and now, years later. We’ll call my neighbor friend John and his son Samuel.
John walked into my office one day and inquired about having Samuel work at one of my stores.
As a man with a big company himself, John might have taken the safe route and set his son up with a job working with him. It made me feel good that he came to us.
I remember saying, of course we have work for Samuel, I appreciate your asking. Here’s what we’ll do. Have Samuel fill out our employment application and come in tomorrow at 9:00 am for a short interview. And, no one is to come in with Samuel. Don’t tell him that we have a job for him. He’ll do just fine and our crew will love working with him.
The next morning, Samuel shows up 15 minutes early, alone, neatly dressed with his head down. I could see he struggled some with the application, which was fine. I had him sit behind my desk, which I often do for interviews with younger applicants. Ten minutes later, he punched in and had his smock on. The rest is history.
Fast forward 2 years.
Samuel continued to be early for work. From day one, he wanted to stay late and always asked what else we had for him to do. The store Samuel worked in was very active with hundreds of customers a day, and many high school and college age student co-workers. Just what he needed to gain some confidence.
Everyone treated Samuel with total respect, patience and empathy. Yes, it was a learning process for some at the store. A healthy one at that.
Gradually, over the months, Samuel had friends, walked with confidence, and learned to look me straight in the eye with a firm handshake. I kidded with his Dad, “next, he’ll want my job”. He just loved coming to work.
Over time, Samuel learned to check in shipments, work with vendors, help customers, and answer phones. Like everyone else, he cleaned the store. Most of these tasks were not always easy. We were patient, knowing how proud he was of his work. He learned by making mistakes, and then doing it over if needed. He became very precise and accurate. We all took pride in having Samuel work at the store.
Samuel is happily married, moved to another state and works for a distribution company.
Thank you Samuel!
Imagine Gift Stores